Late last week, word broken that more than $100,000 worth of clothing, shoes, handbags and accessories had been swiped from Saint Laurent’s Chicago boutique in a brazen smash-and-grab robbery in the middle of the night, and now we’ve received an interesting note from a tipster: a Saint Laurent Crocodile Sac de Jour Bag, priced at over $29,000, was among the loot missing from the store when the cops arrived. (more…)

If your interest in designer handbags has sprung up any time in the past ten to 15 years, then you’ve heard the tales of “factory extras.” They’re not fakes, according to the people who would like to convince you to part with your money. No, they’d never sell you fake bags! (more…)

It’s been a turbulent year for handbag favorite Mulberry. First, creative director Emma Hill left at the end of last summer, amid rumors that she and management weren’t exactly getting along. Now, word broke late last week that CEO Bruno Guillon has up and quit, ending his short run with the brand, which Reuters characterized as “turblent.” What happens from here? (more…)

What’s that you say? The world’s most expensive and exclusive handbags have the most expensive luxury retail address on Madison Avenue at which to rest their rarified haunches in anticipation of being scooped up by the world’s elite? Preposterous.

Ok, so it’s not exactly shocking that the Hermes flagship boutique at the corner of Madison Avenue and 62nd Street, smack in the middle of Manhattan’s toniest retail district, pays the most rent per square foot of space on the famed avenue. What’s shocking is the number: over $1,700 per square foot for a space in excess of 30,000 square feet. (more…)

The rumors have finally been confirmed: Nicolas Ghesquiere, formerly of Balenciaga, will replace Marc Jacobs as the creative head behind Louis Vuitton’s women’s division, according to an announcement made by the brand on its official Twitter account this morning. Women’s Wear Daily reports that the first collection in Ghesquiere’s tenure at Vuitton will be the Fall 2014 show in March. (more…)

Kanye West is a man with many thoughts. Thoughts about art, thoughts about Kim Kardashian, thoughts about his own brilliance and, as it turns out, thoughts about Louis Vuitton. West once regularly referred to himself as the “Louis Vuitton Don” in his lyrics, but those days have passed us by. These days, Kanye thinks about Vuitton what many of you seem to think: that the brand could use a little price adjustment. (more…)

For an experience that’s supposed to be so lovely and luxurious, shopping for fashion can be everything from frustrating to dehumanizing, and it can be those things all too often for some shoppers. Over the past week, Barneys’ New York flagship store has been hit by allegations that it surreptitiously called the cops on two paying customers for nothing other than having the temerity to be black while buying something expensive. One of those customers, Kayla Phillips, says she was targeted after buying a Celine Luggage Tote.

Unless you fit the narrow, impeccably dressed profile of what many luxury stores consider to be the kind of people to whom they’d like to cater, you probably know what it’s like to get a dirty look or be totally ignored while trying to spend your hard-earned dollars on a handbag. As a young, non-skinny woman with pink hair, I rarely get attention from sales associates at high-end stores unless I’m carrying an uber-conspicuous handbag or a large shopping bag from an equally elite store. As embarrassing as it can be to try to flag down assistance from someone who has already judged you as poor, distasteful or both, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to complete a purchase with your own money, leave the store and then get stopped by the cops. I can’t fathom that sort of humiliation while shopping, or why store employees feel they have a right to treat anyone like that.

Barneys, for its part, denies that any of its associates called the cops on anyone and that it was the NYPD itself that decided to question the African-American shoppers once they left the store. The NYPD, on the other hand, insists that they were summoned by employees. No matter who started the ball rolling down hill, the assumptions inherent in both incidents are clear: if a young black person has enough money to buy something expensive, it’s not because she worked hard and saved money, or she, like so many people in New York City, just has money to spend on silly things like handbags. It’s because she stole something. In the end, the implication is that nice things aren’t meant for those people. Fashion certainly benefits monetarily from its close association with hip-hop (an association which is only getting closer), but if you want to stroll into a high-end store and expect high-end service, you best be Rihanna.

Over the weekend, several fashion industry vets on Twitter linked to Horacio Silva’s 2007 New York Times Critical Shopper column about the opening of the Tom Ford boutique on Madison Avenue. Silva didn’t have the cops called on him, but he was treated like he didn’t belong in the store on his first visit, shoo’d away from personal shopping areas and mostly left to wander the store without assistance, as though no employees wanted to encourage him to remain in the store longer than he might otherwise be inclined. (On a second visit, after the staff had been tipped off to his place of employment, Silva got the white glove treatment.) Fashion retail has had a tough time walking the line between “exclusive” and “exclusionary” for quite some time, and it looks like scant progress has been made. If you don’t look the part, down to the color of your skin, good luck finding someone to help you lighten your wallet.

Have you been profiled at a high-end boutique or department store because of your ethnicity, weight or general appearance? Let us know about it in the comments.

It’s been a big week for luxury theft in the news. First, a woman in England was found guilty of stealing nearly 1,000 designer handbags, one by one, over a period of three years. If that weren’t enough, yesterday came word that an entire Hermes collection had been stolen off the back of a truck in Milan, forcing the cancellation of an Hermes press preview that had been scheduled. It seems as though, when it comes to luxury goods, fingers the world over just keep getting stickier and stickier. (more…)

Considering how many luxury boutiques have reputations for staffs that seem to purposefully ignore customers who don’t fit a very narrow profile, it’s perhaps surprising that more people don’t simply pick up bags and trot right out the door with them. After all, if a salesperson is busy pretending you don’t exist, it must be hard for him or her to make sure you don’t get a case of the sticky fingers. Apparently a woman in England has been using that behavior to her advantage to the tune of 904 handbags for the price of free ninety-nine. (more…)

According to the Telegraph, third quarter growth for LVMH weakened to just two percent, an outcome which the conglomerate’s recent shift in strategy probably predicted. Although that’s still growth, it’s certainly a marked shift from what the world’s largest luxury company is used to and the kind of growth its counted on in the past. In LVMH’s heyday, quarterly grown was often as high as ten percent, and it had fallen to five to six percent earlier this year.

Although LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton in addition to noted handbag purveyors like Celine, Dior and Givenchy, doesn’t break results down by brand, it does indicate which product categories have been weakest, and apparently this decline in growth is a result of decreased sales in the formerly cash-flush categories of fashion and leather goods, perfume and cosmetics and watches and jewelry. Those are the “Big Three” categories that luxury companies can usually rely on to bring in the steadiest cash flow.

Louis Vuitton has long been LVMH’s biggest cash cow, and perception problems with its monogram bags have begun to haunt the brand. Namely, customers at the highest end of the market, those who shop the most frequently and spend the most money, perceive Vuitton to be a brand that caters to a less sophisticated segment of the market, to put it delicately. When you pair that with a market that no longer makes Celine Luggage Totes and Trapeze Bags disappear off the shelves instantly (and with no super-buzzy replacement in sight from Celine), LVMH’s shift in strategy seems well-timed.

As we told you when the story first broke, LVMH’s strategy is to go after those big-fish customers that are now somewhat leery of its marquee brand. That means raising prices overall to discourage low-end customers and renewing the company’s focus on leather instead of monogram canvas. The first indicators of that strategy have already reached the public, including producing the entry-level Neverfull bag in pricey leather and introducing several all-leather bags with more limited use of the company’s logo.

Considering all of that, Marc Jacobs’ recent exodus from the brand comes at what may, in fact, be an opportune time. Even though Jacobs was generally an enormous boon to Louis Vuitton’s handbag business, it appears that his particular brand of magic was beginning to wear off. Fashion is almost always willing to reconsider a historic name with a new creative talent at the helm (hello, Celine), so if LVMH ever gets Nicolas Ghesquiere to sign on the dotted line, we might be in for some fun.

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